“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself” – Edmund Lee
The idea for this post has been on my mind for a while but put on hold because of deadlines and responsibilities, yet recently God has laid it on my heart so heavily to share some of the thoughts I’ve had over the past couple of months. There’s really so much to say on this topic and I already feel as though a part 2 might be on the cards but for now let me share why it’s important to be fussy about who you call a friend.
Of course, we already know how important it is to surround yourself with good people, and that “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Our parents warned us about those friends of ours that they had bad feelings about, and somehow they always turned out to be right, yet I didn’t realise the importance of surrounding myself with the right people until I left school and moved away to university.
It was here that I quickly realised how much of an influence the people around me had on the person I was becoming; in terms of my mindset, the things I had begun to take an interest in and the behaviours I would adopt. Simply, it’s so easy to unintentionally become like those that you spend time with. In the early years of adulthood especially, life seems daunting and stressful, which is why it is so important to maintain friendships with people going through the same things as you, who understand your doubts or fears and will challenge you to grow. Essentially, your friends are your biggest support system and the greatest influence on your growth throughout the most defining years of your life.
So it really makes a difference when your circle isn’t rooting for you to do well. It’s been said that ‘those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you’ and some of my experiences over the past couple of years have been great examples. After forcing friendships with those that I felt obligated to spend time with, I realised how much they were taking away from my life, as opposed to adding to it. This wasn’t necessarily material loss, but more the fact that making an effort to remain in contact felt exhausting of time and energy. I found myself coming away from conversations with them feeling drained, pessimistic and often discouraged from pursuing an idea I had shared with them, just because they were critical or unenthusiastic about it. It became clear that we weren’t heading in the same direction and if anything, they were a distraction or hindrance. This isn’t to say that they’re bad people or that I regret the friendships I’ve had, but more that it’s key to understand that some friendships are seasonal and may not be a part of your next period of growth, just because the role that God sent them into your life to play may have been fulfilled.
Another realisation that I’ve had since coming to university is the fact that the length of knowing someone is in no way proportional to the level of friendship you may have with them. I know you already know this but have you actually considered it in terms of your own friends? Some of my closest friends I’ve literally only known for about a year, some I’ve only really considered friends over the past couple of months. Yet these are the people I find myself wanting to spend time with, wanting to share ideas and experiences with and most importantly, wanting to share my problems and doubts with.
Like the advice given above by Edmund Lee, we should surround ourselves with people who see greatness in us, even when we might not be able to see it ourselves. These are the people that are capable of contributing to the solutions of our problems, cheering us on when we achieve and will eventually be those that deserve to share our success. Personally, after hearing motivational speaker Jim Rohn say that ‘we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with’, I re-evaluated my close friendships and made a conscious decision to invest more time into those around me whose values, mentalities and characteristics I admire most, and those that challenge me to be a better person.
Along the same vein, I’m a strong believer in the fact that good people attract good people, so sometimes it’s necessary to evaluate your role as a friend and question what it is you’re contributing towards your friendships and whether you’re helping your friends become the best versions of themselves. The most important question to ask yourself is whether you’re someone that you, yourself, would like to be friends with.
Finally, reminders to both you and myself: to stay away from negative energy, that a small circle can bring the greatest blessings, and that good friends deserve your appreciation.